Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Political Suicide, by Michael Palmer

Michael Palmers new novel featuring Dr. Lou Welcome is sure to be one of your best buys of the holiday season. The character development is rich, the story lines are crisp and sharply written. The close to reality of the scenario will keep you turning the pages until you get to the end and are left wanting more.

Dr. Lou Welcome is a true loyal friend, who also has a set of moral values and tenacity that an Explorer Scout would be desirous of. Lou is the kind of guy that has faced his own problems up close and come out the better man on the other side.

In this gripping novel he is faced with helping a friend prove his innocence in the murder of a U S Congressman. The police feel they have an open and shut case and it would appear as though they are correct. But Lou comes to his friends aid only to discover that the Congreeman had some heavy duty enemies in the Secretary of Defense and a Marine Colonel who have a dirty little secret that they are closely guarding. But would that have been enough for them to kill a congressman?

Now enter Susan Cooper, the high price defense lawyer, who also happens to be a beautiful and you weave a burgeoning love affair into the triangle of this novel. Too bad that her first husband died at the hands of a neglectful doctor. This leaves her with a distaste for doctors, especially one sticking his nose into her business. But, yeah folks, you see it coming, that attractional tension between man and woman that adds flavor to a story.

As the book winds it's way through all the aspects of a great novel there will be other characters who enter the picture and restore your faith in the fact that there are still honest, upright,people with integrity that builds in them true courage in the face of terror.

Also the sub plot of a military unit filled with men who have no fear and you will have a great read.

Thanks Michael for a wonderful new novel.

In the fairness of honesty I want to thank Mr. Palmer and his publicist, Lizzie, for sending me a review copy of the book. It was a wonderful gift.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Poseidon's Arrow, by Clive & Dirk Cussler

Clive and Dirk Cussler do another excellent job of giving us a mystery / adventure that we can delve into and fall in love with. The writing is crisp and clean as always. It is fast paced and well balanced. You will find three main threads to the story line and be able to follow each well. Maybe the only downfall is that you want to know what is going to happen in one of the threads, but the writers go on to the next thread. But trust me they eventually get back to the part you want to find out about.

Dirk and Giordano are tasked with finding out who is pirating tankers that contain rare earth elements, i.e. rocks/minerals. These minerals are important to the production of almost all technology. China and others are trying to corner the market on these materials and if they are successful they will dominate the economy and put a real dent on the U.S. in it's ability to function well and at a reasonable cost. Yeah, that's right it's always about us in the U.S. and our needs. We are selfish, just face it and get over it.

Then Summer and Dirk, Jr. are out tracking the cracks in the ocean floor and trying to place sensors along a rift in the ocean floor that will help us to track and detect underwater earthquakes quicker so that any resulting tsunami's are caught quickly and the alarm sent out to all those in it's path. But low and behold, they stumble across an operation that will dove tail back into what their dad and Giordano are working on.

Then throw in a new character from NCIS and you have your third thread in the story that will give us all the adventure we could ever want.

I won't give any spoiler's but I will tell you this, the book will keep your attention and you won't want to put it down until you finish it. So, just prepare to loose some sleep.

Enjoy it completely.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Tripoli's Target, by Ethan Jones

I am growing to really enjoy Ethan Jones writing.  He brings good action, good scenario's, good characters together to bring a read that you will enjoy.  If you like spy novels, Tom Clancy, or Vince Flynn you will enjoy Ethan Jones.

His action hero's are agents who work for the Intelligence service of the Canadian Government, yeah that's right, the Canadians.  While we think that they are just the Northern neighbor's of the U.S. without much in the way of action we find that a different fact when reading Ethan Jones.

The story starts out with a very realistic look into the mind set of a terrorist who is part of a cell that is going to target Tripoli with multiple car bombs.  Their interest is to sew anxiety but also to create a diversion into what the group really wants to have happen.  Justin Hall and his fellow operatives come into the picture through a different project that they are working but soon discover that the stories are going to overlap.

The characters are well developed, the writing is crisp, the story timely and the action is non stop and well developed. 

There are many different sub plots that will be running through the work.  Such as the Romantic life of the operatives who are wanting to get back home, but keep getting pushed into another adventure.  Or the sub-plot that maybe Justin Hall's boss is actually trying to get him killed!  Maybe she has sold out her agents, or does it just appear that way?

Another sub-plot is how the agencies of different countries don't always get along.  The Israeli's are targeting terrorist, but don't care if a Canadian gets in the cross hairs.  The U.S. wants to protect their own interest but really don't care what the Canadians are finding out and that their work will add the Americans if they will just let them.

Oh, and don't forget the terrorist and wealthy Arab oil Barons.  Tripoli's Target is a great read, one that will keep you on the edge of your seat and will leave you wanting more.  Jones' first book, Arctic Wargame wsa good, but with this book you can see that he is developing his writing style and getting better and better.  Now I can't wait for the next book in the adventures of Justin Hall.


Monday, September 3, 2012

The Lost Years, by Mary Higgins Clark

I listened to the audio version of this book.  So, my first part of the review will be with the audio production.  The woman who read the novel had a very pleasant soothing voice.  She did a great job of enunciation and I had no trouble following her reading.  Some of the different voices she used were not as appeasing as I might have liked, but they did not detract from the telling of the story.  Another item that helped with the audio version is that the chapters are short, so if you can only listen for a short while, such as 15 minutes, you won’t be hampered by waiting for a natural break.

The story itself is intriguing.  An ancient manuscript professor, one of archeology, is found shot to death in the study of his home.  His wife, who has Alzheimer’s is found in the closet holding the gun that was used to murder the professor.  She can only utter two sentences, “So much noise.  So much blood.”

His daughter Mariah is caught in a dilemma of having to determine whether her mother was capable of the murder or not.  Is she just a convenient scapegoat for the real killer.  Further, why would someone want to kill Mariah’s father.  Is it the fact that he was having an affair with a colleague, which his wife had found out about?  Or was it a colleague that sough something from the professor.

It appears that the professor had found a valuable letter in a bunch of antiquities.  He believes it is the only handwritten letter from Jesus Christ of Nazareth to ever be written.  It was written to Joseph of Arimathea to thank him for his kindness throughout Jesus’ life. This suppose letter had been stolen from the Vatican hundreds of years before and was never found, until now.  It would be priceless if it was real.

The story takes you through the turmoil of dealing with an Alzheimer’s patient, with police who want a quick solution to a murder and with love and deception that is happening all around.

In true Mary Higgins Clark style the story is written well, weaves through all kinds of sub plots and brings you back to the main storyline with a bunch of twists right at the end.

I loved the story and enjoyed the audible version.  I would highly recommend this to anyone headed out on a trip who wants to have eight hours of entertainment.  It is great.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Shattered Visions Haunted Memories, by Reyna Hawk

I waited with anticipation for the final book in the three book series by Reyna Hawk.  I wanted to know how life was going to end up for Janie.  I wanted to know if she and Malachi would find true happiness.  I wanted to know if her memory would come back completely.  I wanted to know that the last part of book two was only a dream and not reality and that she would wake up and things would be great.

Well, I got a lot more than I bargained for.  Reyna Hawk certainly knows how to surprise her readers and how to change up scenario’s throughout her stories.  I found myself not wanting to put the book down because I wanted to know what the next twist to the story was going to be.  I found myself getting more anxious and the book was coming closer to an end.  I found myself nervous that I wasn’t going to like how things turned out.  I found myself conflicted about how things were going.

So, was I happy with what happens?  Not exactly.  I had to write to Reyna and have a dialogue with her about how the story developed and where it went.  I was concerned about one part of the story that was so different from the first two books.  Janie’s vocabulary was not what I expected after books one and two.  At one point in the book another character says to her, “When did you develop such a potty mouth.”  I found myself agreeing.  I didn’t like it, but I wondered why it had been developed.

Reyna helped me to understand.  So, I will give you a hint so that as you read the book you will understand.  Janie is confused, frightened, frustrated and conflicted about who she really loves and why.  As such she is lashing out because of all that has happened to her.  She is trying to make sense of everything.  With that explanation things came more into focus for me.  So, I hope with that explanation they will come more into focus for you.

I loved the way Reyna brings real life to bear on the characters in her book.  She brings real emotion.  She brings real character flaws and she brings real character fear and frustration.  She portrays how each of us has a fantasy life where people are perfect, or at least we make them what we want to make them.  But then reality sets in and we see them for who they really are.  They are not necessarily as perfect as we thought, but maybe they are!  People will surprise you in how they act in real life.  Sometimes what they do is more perfect than we think.

So, as you read ask yourself this, how would I respond if I were in Janie’s shoes?  How would I respond if people around me were lying to me?  How would I respond if I were frightened for my life?  How would I respond if everything was going to hell in a hand basket.  Then you might just understand Janie a bit more.

I guarantee you that you won’t put this book down until you get to the end.  But if you haven’t read the first two in the series you really need to read them first or you will be totally lost in this book.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Killing in the Hills, by Julia Keller

For Belfa Elkins being the Prosecuting Attorney for Raythune County is suppose to be a fairly simple job. The small town of Acker's Gap and the rest of the county aren't much in the way of size. For West Virginia they are about as small town and normal as you would expect. But something has happened. Drugs have moved into the area and are really starting to cause a ripple effect in crime that is beginning to look more like large city issues than small town America.

When Belfa (her friends call her Bell) moved back to Acker's gap with her daughter she was returning to small town life and small town values. She felt that leaving the Washington D.C. area and all of it's large city crimes would be behind her. She also left behind her husband who wanted nothing to do with small town life, but everything to do with being a Washington D.C. lawyer / lobbyist / insider with lots of clout and the money to go along with it.

Bell and her daughter Carla have done fairly well in small town America, but Bell is finding the fight more and more difficult as she teams with her friend, Sheriff Nick Fogelsong to fight drugs and organized crime. But their fight takes on a new aspect, the killing of three older men in the town fast food restaurant starts a cascading effect that may have terrible repercussions for Bell and Carla as well as the entire town.

Carla is at the restaurant when a gunmen opens the door, guns down the three senior citizens and then calming leaves taking no other lives. Why these three men? Why in open daylight? Why with so many witnesses? What is really going on.

Carla saw the gunman and thinks she may know who it is but she doesn't tell her mother or the police. She keeps it to herself. Is it an act of defiance or protection? Is it being non committal or being afraid to get involved?

Further, the gunman has been hired by someone who wants to send a message. But as part of that message he also wants to take out the County Prosecutor. Is it a disgruntled criminal that Bell has put behind bars, or is it part of the organized crime that is bringing drugs to the region.

Julia Keller puts together a great novel with lots of intrigue, mis-direction and plenty of human drama that will keep you turning the pages. Will Carla ever reveal what she knows? Will Carla and Bell ever reconcile their mother / daughter differences? Will Carla leave and move back to Washington D.C. with her dad? Will Bell turn the corner on the criminals and get a hand up on the drug problems and the crime problems?

There are two other story lines mixed in with the main story. One is that of an adult man who has the maturity of a 12 year old. He is accused of killing his young 10 year old playmate. But should he be tried as an adult or let go because of diminished capacity. Bell has to decide whether to prosecute. Also there is the story of Bell's background (childhood) and the fact that her sister was put in prison twenty nine years ago for the brutal murder of their father. But was it murder or was it self-defense? Should her sister be let out on parole or not? Will Bell come to her sisters aid or just let her languish in prison?

This is a fun summer read that any Grisham fan would love to read. I hope you enjoy it, and I'm sure that you will be like me at the end, wanting a bit more and anxious for the next Bell Elkins novel.


Sacrament of Fear, by Will Dresser

Will Dresser hits a home run with this Wes Franklin novel. Dr. Wes Franklin is part of a unique group of people, The Cloister of Akhenaten, who are committed to serving others. But suddenly members of the group start to die. They all appear to die of normal medical conditions, but it seems odd that they would start dying all at the same time and within days of each other.

Wes is first contacted by his friends in The Netherlands who are part of the Hauge and specifically part of a unique group of people keeping an eye on terrorism. One of their members has died, a friend of Wes's, but also he is a member of The Cloister of Akhenaten. As Wes goes to The Netherlands for the funeral he is brought face to face with the situation of his other friends also dying.

It turns out that there is a group of Syrian businessmen, terrorist, who are working on a way to literally scare people to death! They plan on putting their drug into the food supply and thus manipulating the "fears" of people and causing mass hysteria that will force governments to do things they wouldn't normally due. Their hope is to bring about revolution amongst the populace that will bring down the major governments of Europe and eventually the United States.

But they have taken on a task first to eliminate The Cloister of Athenaken. The question is why? But the further question is, can Wes and his friends stop them before they unleash their drug on the world?

The writing is excellent and the suspense will build as you get into the story. Dr. Franklin and his group of 'hero's' will again have to perform extraordinary detective work and stop the terrorist before they can strike.

What I really enjoyed about the book was the fact that Will Dresser also has Muslim characters in the book who are not terrorist, but are Godly, moral people who care about others and do not want to be lumped in with the extremists. I think the writing brings about a good balance and gives good lessons for each of us to learn. Not all Muslims are bad people. They love their families, they love those of other religions as well. They are good people.

But thank God for groups like the Cloister of Athenaken and people like Wes Franklin who strive to keep the world free of evil, free of danger and free to live in peace.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Smeared, by Mark Rogers

Mark Rogers first novel is a home run. He writes a story about a young Chief of State for a long term Senator. Hartford Keepe, is a man who loves to run the office of Senator Harold Feldstone. He loves to spin the story, to turn heads, to trump the next power player and keep his guy on top. He is good at his job and is paid well to continue it.

But Senator Harold Feldstone's ratings are dropping and re-election is coming. They need to do something to turn things around so that they get re-elected and stay in power. Hartford comes up with a concept, Listen to America (LTA) an opportunity for Congress and the Senate to appear to want to hear from America and look like they care about the people, when really all they want to do is get re-elected and keep their paychecks and pensions secure.

On the way home from work Hartford sees a man who is being harassed by the Park Police. He stops because he doesn't like the policeman whom he sees doing the harassing. He intervenes only to discover that Thomas, the man being harassed, is dressed like a colonial Minuteman and has no memory of his last name or where he came from. As a matter of face he appears to only remember the Colonial times and the Founding Fathers of our country.

Keepe takes him home to Annie, his live in, and they do their good samaritan routine and give Thomas a place to live and some much needed help.

Through a series of events Thomas ends up starting to sell T-Shirts on the Capital Mall that have the sayings of our Founding Fathers and the imagine of a Minuteman on the shirt. While selling the shirts he is also talking to all the tourist about history, government, what the Founding Fathers meant by the Constitution, etc. He is giving Civic's, Government and History lessons to the people. He is also listening to their concerns about what is happening in America.

Thomas ends up being tapped by Hartford and his Senator to be the man to "Speak for the People of America" for the Listen to America Program. But that is where the fun will come in.

Hartford and Miss Annie are really growing to care about Thomas. Thomas is growing to be a man of the people, but a pain in the backside for the media and the government.

Rogers novel is well conceived, well written and just down right fun to read. It also has a good bit of mystery in it, such as, where did Thomas come from? Is he from the past? How does he know so much but have no memory? Why is the government interested in him?

Rogers then goes on to weave in his political views of where America is, what is wrong with the Media, what is wrong with Government and what we the People need to do to take back the best of our country. He calls those who love America to unite and stand up for what the Founding Fathers wanted.

His book is a fun read. But I know that it will also irritate lots of political science majors, lots of Liberals, lots of special interests groups. But I for one think that Mark has caught well what the average American believes about his country.

You might not agree with Roger's views, but you will be entertained by his book.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Reflection of Secrets, by Reyna Hawk

Book Two in this Trilogy will be available starting July 20, 2012 at  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/206758.

It will be available in eBook form next week on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.

It will be available in paperback form later this fall.

In Book two of her trilogy we join Janie, her brother Daniel, and her new best friend, Malachi Wolfe and Janie tries to get her life under control.  Janie has given birth to Daniella and is trying to start her new life living under Malachi’s roof.

Malachi does his best to bring comfort and care to Janie, without asking for anything in return.  He loves Daniella as though she were his own daughter.  He provides, protects and brings a sense of healing and safety to the lives of mother and daughter.

But brother Daniel is not to sure that he wants Janie living with Malachi.  They have a falling out because of this, but Daniel upon further investigation decides that Malachi is OK and actually finds himself liking this man.

Malachi’s family comes more into play in this 2nd novel.  They come around he and Janie and Daniella and really start to bond with them.  Janie is finding healing.  But she doesn’t want her daughter to forget her father, so each evening she shows her a picture of Rico and tells her that he is her daddy.

Things are going well and we start to learn more about Malachi.  It turns out that he has a special gift, much like Janie does.  He is a gifted ‘holy man’ of the Cherokee people.  He brings insights and healing to others, and when she is ready he will bring healing to Janie from her emotional pain.

Eventually Janie settles into a good life, a safe life, a protected life.  The FBI wants her to testify against the Petrilo mob family, but she doesn’t have to.  Anthony gets sentenced to 25 years in prison and it appears that things are going to be good for Janie and her baby and they don’t need to worry.

But then tragedy hits again, someone kidnaps her daughter, neither she nor Malachi saw this coming and they are distraught.  Months go by and the FBI is unable to find Daniella.  They don’t believe the Mob has taken her, so who has?

Janie and Malachi come to terms with the loss, they come to terms with their relationship and they get married.  Janie gets pregnant and even though her daughter is missing she and Malachi are moving on.

Then an accident happens, Malachi falls off the roof and is injured.  He is rushed to the hospital.  While there Janie’s water breaks and she gives birth to their child . . . . . or she at least is in the process of giving birth.  Everything goes black and then . . . . .

Well, let’s just say the story takes a very interesting turn at this point.  The last third of the book focuses on how our minds can play tricks on us, or at least it appears that is happening.

Reyna Hawk brings a twist to the story that you won’t see coming.  She brings a surprise that you might not like, or you just might think is cool.  I know I was caught off guard and wasn’t sure I liked this new twist.  But the more I read the more I was caught up in what was happening.

Janie’s mind is playing tricks and you won’t know where it is going to head and how it is going to end.

The best part, in true Trilogy fashion you are left hanging, wanting to know how things are going to turn out.  I haven’t been this interested in the next volume of a series since reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Reyna’s writing continues to be refreshing, well balanced, engaging and well frankly, just so down to earth that I feel like these folks have become some of my best friends and I just want the best for them.  I am so drawn to these characters that I am left speechless wanting to know what is going to happen.

If you haven’t read the first book, “Looking Through Blind Eyes” you definitely need to read it first before reading this one.  For info on that book go back to my June postings in this Blog and you will find my review of that book as well as an interview with Author Reyna Hawk.

Bloodline: A Sigma Force Novel, by James Rollins

James Rollins hits another home run with the next Sigma Force Novel. He brings all of our friends back as well as introduces some new players who help the team. His writing is crisp, fast paced and equals anything the Vince Flynn or Tom Clancy have put out. If you love the spy / adventure / war / political intrigue type of novel this one is for you.

Pierce Gray and his group are still reeling from their previous adventure. Pierce is still grieving the loss of his mother and the persistent dimentia that his father is living with. His life is complicated and add his desire to find and punish those who took his mother's life and you have a young man wound a bit to tight.

Add to that the issue of the President's pregnant daughter being kidnapped by Somalian Pirates and you have the beginning of a novel that will keep you riveted to your seat until you finish it.

The problems are compounded by The Guild, who have a hand in every part of this adventure. It appears that they are working on making the perfect DNA string, adding a third variable to the dual helix to produce a triple helix that will allow man to live forever. They are also working on advanced robotics that use the brains of living things to operate. Would you believe that the brain of a mouse can be used to control a robot, or fly an aircraft or fight a war? What if you used the brain of a more intelligent being, say maybe a human, what could your robot do then?

These are frightening things to consider and Rollins points out that these scientific happenings are now made up, they are the here and now. He sights sources that state that the triple helix will be viable by the year 2045. Is that true? Is man that close to playing God? At the end of the novel Rollins sights web sites that will give you the details for his scientific pondering in this novel.

Well, back to the book. The Guild is working on the triple Helix and they have research to do on mothers and their infants. President Gant's daughter, Amanda, happens to be one of those experiments, but she doesn't know it.

Further complicating things are the fact that the Gant Family is involved with the Guild up to their eyeballs. How can they go after one of their own as part of the experiment, or are they.

Gray and his crew are joined by a new partner, former Army Camptain Wayne Tucker and his military trained dog Kane. They have sought Tucker out because of his dog. The dog, Kane, turns out to be the true hero of this novel, at least in my opinion. It is the dog and his training that provide much of the tension, excitement and solution to the whole issue of Amanda's kidnapping.

This thrilling ride will be a frightening ride when you realize that what Rollins is talking about in regards to The Guild could actually be happening in our scientific communities of today. In the wrong hands their experiments will be devastating.

Being a Pastor I believe in an Intelligent Designer, The Lord Almighty, and thus I don't believe that science will be able to break through all of the codes that God has planted in our DNA. BUT, Satan is also real and He is the Prince of this world at present and I am afraid of what that might mean for this world.

Rollins book is a great novel, but it also will cause you to stop and start questioning, are we, mankind, getting to advanced in our technology for our own good.

So, is this a novel or a statement on scientific and technological advancements? I don't know, you decide. But truth often reads like fiction.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sweeter than Birdsong, by Rosslyn Elliott

For Ben Hanby and Kate Winter life was going to provide some very interesting experiences. This young couple would meet and fall in love in circumstances that are fairly normal yet highly unusual. Growing up in the mid 1800's had is own challenges, but add on the fact that Kate will be the first woman to graduate from Otterbein College and that Ben Hanby and his family will become well known abolitionist and you have quite a story. The fact that it is also based on the true lives of the two make it even more fun.

Ben and Kate meet at Otterbein college where they both attend. Both are musical. Both are compassionate and caring, both are highly intelligent. But there things part. Kate's mother comes from higher society and wants her daughter to marry well. Ben comes from a larger family of working people, his dad makes saddles and bridles for a living while also being a minister to a local flock.

But things are a bit different for Ben's family. They also help runaway slaves get from the south to Canada where they can live free. But this brings much heart ache into their lives. Often times the slaves are caught and returned to their cruel owners. Also many of their friends believe slavery is fine and so they have to keep their activities secret.

Kate will get caught up in these secret ways due to some strange consequences. She will find that her shyness falls away as she is brought face to face with slavery and abolition. She will also find she has fallen in love with Ben Hanby only to have her mother tell her she can not see him because he is of no consequence and is not a good fit for a husband.

The story revolves around the true life of Ben Hanby, his work with slaves, his obession with writing music, especially music that tells a story of abolition.

The story is well developed, the characters well written and even though there is not high intrigue there is enough drama to keep you turning the pages until the end. This story is truly inspiring. On top of that are the Christian values that drive Ben and his family to do what they do and how those values change the life of Kate Winter and her family.

This will become one of your favorite reads this summer and the better news is that it is part of a series. So look for more in this line of books.


A Room Full of Bones, by Elly Griffiths

Ruth Galloway, Cathbad and Inspector Nelson are all back in another adventure of death and archeology. A construction crew has uncovered the coffin of a Catholic Bishop who appears to have been buried in the wrong place. To make things interesting the coffin and body are being delivered to the Smith family museum (relatives of the deceased Clergy) for them to have on display.

They decide they would like to open the coffin and the press has been called in to watch. The opening of a several hundred years old coffin seems to invite mystery. Ruth Galloway is asked to be present at the opening to provide expertise in relationship to identifying the bones.

But when Ruth shows up at the Museum about an hour early she finds the curator of the Museum lying on the floor next to the coffin dead. It doesn't appear to be murder, but the young curator is to young to die of a heart attack. Why did he die? Was it due to the curse of the coffin that the Bishop put on it? The curse was to not disturb the bones of the deceased or face certain death.

Inspector Harry Nelson is called in along with Judy and Clough to investigate. The coffin gets opened and Lord Smith who is at the opening turns up dead several days later at his race horse ranch. Why did he die? Was it the curse?

Not only that but inspector Nelson also gets sick and enters into a coma and is fighting for his life and the doctors can't find a cause. Cathbad to the rescue. He informs Ruth that is the curse and he plans to enter the "Dreaming" to find Nelson and bring him back.

Oh, and to add to the mystery the Museum is also holding the skeletal remains of Aborignal Natives from Australia. This has brought about a group trying to get the museum to return the remains so that they can be laid to rest in their homeland and able to find peace. Bob Woonunga has moved in next to Ruth and he is a Shaman from Australia who has come to seek the return of the bones. Cathbad thinks he may have put the curse on the museum curator, inspector Nelson and Lord Smith. Who knows.

The book has several plots running at once. There is also a drug operation that the police are trying to break up. Does it tie in, well of course it does, otherwise it wouldn't be mentioned so often.

All in all the book is a bit slower than the other reads. It was not as exciting as the others in the series. But it does a great job of developing Ruth's character and that of her little girl Kate. It further develops the relationship between Ruth and Harry and the problems that rise up with Harry's wife.

The book is good, just not as fascinating as the first books in the series. I hope the next one is a bit more filled with archeology than just a study of the bones in a museum.


Monday, July 2, 2012

Three's a Crowd

My wife has gotten to know Mary Simonsen through her Jane Austen fan fiction writing. When Mary came out with this novel my wife suggested that I read it and provide a review as an encouragement to Mary. My fear was whether I would like the book or not, I didn't want to give a bad review :)

I was very pleasantly pleased with the Novel. Detective Patrick Shea provides us with a solid British Police Detective who is compassionate, loyal, strong willed and frankly, good at his job. Along with his partner Molly they provide a great dual of police work.

The book starts out with Shea and Updike on a stakeout to try and catch a 'cat burglar' who has been victimizing a particular community. Their efforts pay off and they catch the 'gentlemen' burglar as he is exiting his latest victims home. Upon being caught the burglar doesn't resist but instead offers a rose to Detective Shea for a job well done in catching him. Obviously this sets Shea up for all kinds of ribbing from fellow officers.

Detective Shea is writing up reports when an old friend shows up from a previous station that he worked. This friend wants to inform Shea that his former girlfriend has been assaulted and is in the hospital. Shea is concerned and goes to visit her. Upon entering the room he discovers that he still has deep feelings for her.

The book deals with police procedures, personal vendetta's and romance. Each theme plays an important role in the short novel. Each theme is well developed and well written. The characters are well developed and you learn enough about each to draw you in and give you a firm position on which to either like or dislike a particular character.

What I found very intriguing is that Mary got the details correct. For more than 10 years I served as a volunteer Police Chaplain and during that time I learned how police officers work and the camaraderie that they develop. When you sit on a stake out with someone for hours you get to know them. When you get shot at along side another officer you grow a loyalty and solid working relationship. As you solve crimes together you learn to understand your partner and his or her needs and how they work.

Mary gets the relationships. She builds them well and strings them together in a story that is very true to the real life that a policeman lives.

What I enjoyed most is that the crimes that Detective Shea was solving were not heinous, they were not vicious, they were the everyday small items that police officers handle all the time. They are the mundane. But Mary wrote the story in such a way as to draw you in, give you enough excitement to keep you turning the pages and enough reality to make you want to see a good outcome for both Detective Shea and his one time girlfriend.

This is a great story and I look forward to reading more Detective Shea novels.

Oh, and by the way, Mary does a great job in getting the terms correct for a British police novel. When you buy the book you might want to turn to the end of the book and read the glossary of terms first before starting the novel, that will help you understand the story a bit better.

If you know any police officers you might give them this book as a gift because they will "Get It" as they read.


Monday, June 25, 2012

Interview with author Ben Coes (The Last Refuge)

Ben Coes next book, The Last Refuge is available for Pre-order on Amazon.com.  It goes live on July 3rd.  It would be a great 4th of July read if you enjoy political thrillers.

1.  Tell us about yourself and your new book.

I'm the author of two international political thrillers - POWER DOWN and COUP D'ETAT, both USA Today Bestsellers. My third book, THE LAST REFUGE, arrives July 3, 2012. COUP is also available throughout the UK, India, Australia, and New Zealand - THE LAST REFUGE will be as well.

I worked at the White House under President Ronald Reagan and was a White House-appointed speechwriter to the U.S. Secretary of Energy at the height of the Gulf War. I was campaign manager for Mitt Romney’s successful run for Governor of Massachusetts and was a Fellow at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. I graduated from Columbia College, where I won the Bennett Cerf Memorial Prize for Fiction. I live in the Boston area with my wife and four children.

My third book, THE LAST REFUGE, is rooted in current events – in this case the intriguing, interconnecting relationships between Iran, Israel and America.  The book is an expression of my support for Israel, and uses our close bond with that country to form the dramatic backdrop of the story.  It continues the story of the main hero in all my books, Dewey Andreas. Dewey is a former U.S. Army Ranger and Delta who is willing to sacrifice everything for what he believes in.  He’s not someone you would want to mess with. 
In REFUGE, Dewey learns that Iran has completed its first nuclear weapon and intends to detonate it in Tel Aviv.  Working with Israel and two ex-CIA operatives, Dewey must figure out how to stop Iran before it’s too late.

2.  When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

When I was in junior high school – I won an award for a short story I had written.  It was a fiction award normally given to adults but I won anyway.  I can still remember the very special feeling I had, knowing that my words impacted people in such a powerful way.

3.  Do you have a favorite character you have written so far or in this particular book?

Yes, my main character, Dewey Andreas, is my favorite character.  When I started writing my first book five years ago, it was a very rough portrait of Dewey that I sketched out.  He was standing alone, on the deck of an offshore oil platform, at night.  In him, I sought to create an individual who embodies the qualities I aspire to.  He’s flawed, sometimes irritable, takes too many risks, but he fights for what he believes in, and he’s willing to risk everything for his country and his friends.  The most rewarding aspect of writing, for me at least, has been the growth of this character; he’s become a part of me and sometimes, as I write, I feel as if I’m taking dictation as he goes out and tackles the world.  It’s a great feeling – an incomparable feeling.

4.  Are there any minor characters you have written that you would like to flesh out more in perhaps another novel?

Yes, Hector Calibrisi, the director of the CIA.  Kohl Meir, an Israeli special forces soldier who saves Dewey’s life.

5.  Have you discovered some interesting information in research that influenced the direction of a novel?

For THE LAST REFUGE, I spent a great deal of time in Israel.  I learned a lot of confidential details about the state of the Iranian nuclear weapon development effort, as well as how Israel and America are penetrating sovereign Iran with operatives.  This highly sensitive information was then used to inform key parts of the book.  I think readers will enjoy the authenticity.

6.  What authors or types of books do you like to read when you're not writing?

I like to read other thriller writers.  I really enjoy Vince Flynn, Michael Connolly, Brad Thor, Mark Greaney, and Nelson Demille.  I also enjoy reading American literary fiction from Hemingway and J.D. Salinger.

7.  What advice would you give to other aspiring authors?

Whenever anyone asks me if I have advice for aspiring writers, this is what I tell them: write every day, inspired or uninspired.  What I started writing that first morning ended up being chapter one of POWER DOWN, my first book, a USA Today bestseller published by St. Martin’s Press about an attack by terrorists against a U.S. energy company.  I kept on plugging away and soon enough I’d finished the second in the series, COUP d’ETAT, about Pakistan and India.

8.  Tell us something most people would not know about you.

I put up a somewhat tough image but the truth is my six year old daughter, Esme, has me wrapped around her finger and can push me around with ease.

9.  What are you working on for your next novel?

“Year of the Scorpion,” my fourth novel in the Dewey Andreas series, pits Dewey against China’s powerful Ministry of State Security, which wants him dead.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Greco's Game, by James Houston Turner

In this fourth book by Turner we find Alex Talanov facing a set of circumstances that will either end his life or reignite his desire to live life and live it fully.  Talanov's wife Andrea is dead, killed by a sniper round that was meant for Alex or was it?

But for Alex life has come to a crushing end.  He is in complete despair and doesn't really care what happens.  He is drinking himself into oblivion at club after club.  Our story starts with him in a hotel room with a hooker named Tash who has drugged him and is now robbing him blind.

Alex wakes up, much sooner than he should, mainly because of his physical condition and professional background.  He goes back to the clubs and finds Tash, confronts her about his wallet, all he wants is his wife's picture.  But in the process two bouncers get in the way and Alex is beaten badly.

But Tash, whose real name is Larissa is overcome with compassion for Alex.  She tracks him down, brings back his wallet and enters his life in a way that only one other person has before and that person was Andrea who is now dead.

Through many mishaps it appears that everyone wants a piece of Alex, from the LAPD to the FBI to ICE and finally the CIA.  So who will win out and get his attention. 

As it turns out Larissa is being used by the Russian Mafia to get close to Talanov, but instead she falls in love with him.  The FBI and LAPD just want Talanov deported and sent out of the country.

But the CIA wants him on their side.  They want the former KGB operative to help them run to ground the Russian Mafia and end their hold on crime in Los Angeles.

Enter Bill Wilcox, Talanov's former CIA handler.  He and Alex will work for the next few days to save the life of Larissa, save the life of a CIA agent, save the life of a U.S. Congresswoman and do their best to bring to the end a Russian Mafia crime ring that has been devastating Los Angeles.  Can they do all this?  That's the story line of the book.

Unlike many other spy / crime / mystery / war / political thrillers that take you all over the world Janes Houston Turner does a fantastic job of building his story completely around the city if Los Angeles and has it all wrapped up in just a few days time.

At first the story seems a bit slow in developing because there is a lot of time given to the new relationship between Alex and Larissa.  But it is all necessary to build on the characters, build on the story line and bring the action to a head.  I say a bit slow, but that is only because most thrillers have lots of action.  The beginning has lots of relationship.

But I was so intrigued by Turner's writing style and the character development that it keep me turning pages.  Just when I went to set the book down so I could do some chores he ends a chapter with a cliff hanger comment from the CIA to Alex about his new love Larissa.  So, instead of setting the book down I had to keep reading.

That's how the whole book goes, just when you think you might take a break someone new and exciting or intriguing pops up and you keep reading.  I finished the book in just two sittings.  That's unusual for me as I usually stop several times and do other things. 

But the writing and the story were so captivating that I just kept turning the pages.

How will it turn out?  Well, maybe good maybe not?  Will everyone survive the final chase scene and gun battle?  Maybe, maybe not.  When all is said and done is the story over?  Maybe, maybe not.  Turner ends the book with a hook that will make you anxious for the sequel that will be coming in 2013.  But trust me, after reading this you will want to mark your calendar so that you don't forget to order the sequel when it comes out.


Friday, June 22, 2012

Jericho 3, by Paul McKellips

Paul McKellips brings us a great read in his second novel. WIth this novel comes the return of Navy Captain Seabury Campbell, a medical doctor and former Navy Seal. "Camp" Campbell is going to be in for the fight of his life as he struggles to stop a bio-terroist attack that could spur Armageddon. Camp teams up with Lt. Col. Leslie Raines, former FBI agent Billy Finn and General Ferguson to work together to figure out what the Iranians are up to and whether they truly intend to bring Israel to it's knees with a biological attack.

As the story unfolds Camp is educated by an Iranian Intelligence officer regarding the 8 minutes and 53 seconds of terror that Iran believes will bring the devastation of Israel and usher in the Twelfth Imam who will bring peace to the World and a ruling elite of Muslims to oversee everything. This Iranian operative has to help Camp understand that the West does not have a clear picture of what motivates Muslims and why they are willing to face mutual destruction to achieve what they feel is a higher religious value.

Camp learns his lessons well, but is still locked into fighting terrorism through the methods and values that he has been taught and grown up with. He also has to help the Israeli's come to terms with what the mutual destruction theory might do to their country as well as the Middle East.

McKellips does a great job of bringing the political, military and religious world views together to develop a great novel that will keep you turning the pages until you get to the end. I was fascinated by his use of scripture to point out the subtle aspects of Armageddon and the Valley of Jezrel that has an important role both historically and for the future in accordance with Biblical End Times Theology.

Camp will work to bring a Mossad Agent together with the Iranian Military Agent so that they can discuss the issues of what is likely to be the final all out battle for the Middle East. Omid, the Iranian, although he is a devout Muslim is the portrait of the majority of Muslims who desire peace but desire to obtain it through peaceful means and not militaristic means. He is giving information to the American's and the Israeli's to try and stop what the radical "Twelver's" want to do to destroy Israel.

Will Camp and his friends succeed? Will they stop the destruction of Israel and the deaths of millions through a biological attack?

The story is well written and has many sub-plots that you will almost forget about until McKellips weaves them back in to bring new light on the issue of the battle that is being faced.

I was intrigued by how well McKellips developed his characters, developed his story, told us some history, gave us an education into Bio-warfare and also had a bit of romance thrown in to keep everyone guessing as to what was going to happen.

The ending will surprise you and will also leave the window open for future books to look further into the world of clandestine and military operations.

Thanks Paul for a great read.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Interview with new Author Reyna Hawk

I was approached by Reyna Hawks who asked me if I would be interested in reading and reviewing her new book, "Looking Through Blind Eyes."  I agreed to add it to my stack of books to read and have been very happy with that decision.

So, much so that even though I posted a book review earlier (on this blog: see the side bar) I thought that I would do a BLOG interview with Reyna Hawks to introduce her to you so that you might better understand her and her new found desire to write books.

You will find my book review out on Amazon.Com or her on this Blog under an earlier posting date.

Here is the publishers book description:  All Janie and Daniel wanted was a better life and growing up in small town Louisiana did not give them that opportunity. So the sister and brother headed to Los Angeles, California to make the most of their lives. However, their hopes begin to diminish when Daniel's work in organized crime lead them down dangerous and deadly roads. After Daniel's mysterious disappearance and death, Janie plunges headlong into grief and love for the assistant to the "boss". The couple seems to have everything going for them except for Rico's job that takes him away for days on end sometimes. Janie's suspicions and worries over Rico's possible infidelity reveals information she never imagined would come to light. Her undying love for this man leads to secrets, lies, and murder. Soon Janie finds herself on the wrong side of the gun hanging off a cliff deep in the woods of North Carolina.

You can find the book at this link:  http://www.amazon.com/Looking-Through-Blind-Eyes-Reyna/dp/1432793608/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1339679144&sr=8-4&keywords=Through+Blind+Eyes

The following is the interview with Reyna Hawk:

1. Tell us about yourself and your new book.
First I’ll start with me. I’m a 44 yr old mother of one son and proud grandmother to one beautiful 3 yr old little girl. I’m the youngest of 5 kids. My family comes from the TN and NC area; however I was born and raised in Cincinnati, OH. I love to travel and to take photographs of nature.

As for my book, this idea came to me actually back in about 1996. But due to work schedules and life in general it got put on the back burner. Also, back then the internet and methods of self-publishing were not what they are today. One thing that hasn’t changed is how hard it is to get a good agent. This more or less discouraged me and I figured these stories of mine would forever be in my head. Anyway, about a year ago I decided after doing a Google search on book publishing that self-publishing was the way for me.

Looking Through Blind Eyes is about Janie Valentine and her attempts of living a simple normal life. However, after a family tragedy and falling in love with a Mob Boss’s Assistant, her life is anything but simple and normal. This book follows her through the chaos, secrets, lies, and murders of being connected to the Mob.

I got the name due to an old saying I use to hear my mother say; turn a blind eye. Essentially that is what Janie does; she ignores all the warning signs and knowledge she has, in the hopes of a better life.

2. When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

I would have to say I knew in high school I wanted to be an author. I loved to tell and make up stories for my friends. Many times I would make them up on the spot. I remember telling my mother years later and she persuaded to pursue writing on a deeper level.

3. Do you have a favorite character you have written so far or in this particular book?

Well I am kind of partial to Janie, just because she has been running around in my head for years. However, I also like Daniel, Rico, and Malachi. There is something about each one that I am fond of. Janie is my favorite and then next comes Rico. I feel connected to them more than any of the other characters.

4. Are there any minor characters you have written that you would like to flesh out more in perhaps another novel?

I really would like to touch more on Scott. He had such a small yet major part in this book. I actually have a bit of a twist concerning him in the third book of this series (tentatively titled Shattered Visions Haunted Memories). I am thinking of possibly discussing him more due to this twist.  

Pastor Dan asks, "my favorite sub-character is Malachi, do you have future plans for him in your other books?

Thank you for your question and actually quite a few people's favorite character is Malachi;  and yes I do have future plans for him.  In books two and three he will have a significant part.  Of course, there will be more revealed about him personally and I think many will be surprised by the information that is brought forth about him.

5. Have you discovered some interesting information in research that influenced the direction of a novel?

Wow, the number of hours I did research online and watching documentaries is incredible. I did discover the level of secretiveness and violence that is attributed to those in organized crime. Many movies and books do not do it justice. It really is a scary world and way of living.

I did get an idea for another book on some of the research information. I discovered back in the 30’s to the 60’s there was quite a bit of Mob activity in the Cincinnati, Newport KY and Covington KY area; with connections to Mob men such as Lucky Luciano. Many Cincinnatians don’t realize just how heavy it was in that time.

6. What authors or types of books do you like to read when you're not writing?

I like to read books of a variety of genres. I am not one to rush to the store to buy the latest book that is being raved about. I will read books that grab my interest from the cover image and description on the back. I do like many of Stephen King’s books, along with Mary Higgins Clark, James Patterson, and Patricia Cornwell. The genres I seemed to gravitate toward are suspense, crime, drama, and romance. I do not like books that are nothing but romance though. I like for there to be twists, turns, and action to the storyline. I’m not one that gets into the Sci-Fi or Westerns either. There have been a few I read, but usually I steer clear of them.

7. What advice would you give to other aspiring authors?

Well I actually have three little tidbits of advice. The first is proofread, proofread, and then proofread some more. I went over this book numerous times and even had others proofread; and yet I still found a couple of minor mistakes in the final product. 

When there are numerous errors or if the sentences don’t flow very well then it makes for a difficult reading experience. The second would be to do research on the area, culture, and activities involved in the storyline. If an author is writing about the Rocky Mountains, it needs to be realistic. Those living or that have visited that area know it well. I research every town, people in the area, housing, etc. for each book. Research is very important; one cannot simply go off what they have seen on TV or heard by word of mouth. 

The third bit of advice is NEVER give up. Even if the first book doesn’t do so well, what is to say the next book won’t skyrocket to the top of the Best Seller’s List? I know a couple of authors that because their first book flopped, they hung their hats up. It’s sad because it is such a tough world to get into and see results. There are many great Indie authors out there if the bigger publishing houses would just give us a chance.

This thought is from Pastor Dan.  I agree with Reyna, NEVER give up.  My wife was discouraged after her first book and had to fight through the disappointment of not doing well.  Now, seven books later her sales continue to climb.  She has five self-published books and two books that were picked up by Sourcebooks and published for her.

8. Where do you do most of your writing and under what conditions do you prefer? (music, silence, being alone, etc.)

I generally do my best writing late at night while it’s quiet. I have done some writing in the busiest part of the day; however it’s not quite the same. I prefer writing when I am alone and when it is quiet. I get many of my ideas for plots or books while I am listening to music. I will begin by a thought and then daydream a whole creation of a book idea. Music has always helped me to bring about some great story lines and twists to the books.

9. Tell us something most people would not know about you.

Ok this is a hard one because I’m so open and upfront. I recently did a Top Ten Random List of Facts about myself for a blog site, so I’m trying to think of one not on that list. I’d have to say most people do not realize I have an obsession with tanning and an addiction toward Diet Pepsi. I know tanning is not good for my skin but I really enjoy it and it makes me feel good. I have tried the spray tans, but it’s just not the same. In my opinion spray tans gave me the unnatural dark and orange or dirty looking tans. I’m not as bad as I use to be, but I still go quite frequently. Beings I have a natural olive skin tone my skin tans very easy. So I don’t need to be in the tanning bed every day.

As for the Diet Pepsi, I drink a large quantity of it. Instead of coffee in the morning I drink Diet Pepsi. If I go to a store and they are out, oh look out. I will drive for miles in order to get one. My mother use to say she could always tell what part of town I was living in because the sales of Diet Pepsi went up dramatically.

10. What are you working on for your next novel?

The novel I am currently working on is the second book of the Valentine series. This one is called The Reflection of Secrets. It follows Janie into what has happened since the ending of Looking Through Blind Eyes. I got the name for the book because the life she is now living is a reflection of secrets that have and will be brought into the forefront. 

I want to thank Reyna Hawk for granting this interview for my BLOG site.  I trust that you the reader have found this informative.  Earlier in the post we gave you the link for purchasing her book on Amazon.  It would be well worth your time to read, it is an enjoyable diversion for the summer time blues.

You can also visit Reyna at her web site at http://www.reynahawk.com